GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It is a chronic condition where stomach acid consistently flows back into the esophagus, leading to various symptoms and potential complications. Here are key points about GERD:


  1. Causes:

    • Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES): GERD often results from a weakened or malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular ring that separates the esophagus from the stomach. When the LES doesn’t close properly, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus.
  2. Symptoms:

    • Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest, often after eating or at night.
    • Regurgitation: Backflow of stomach contents into the throat or mouth.
    • Difficulty Swallowing: Known as dysphagia, it can occur due to irritation and narrowing of the esophagus.
    • Chest Pain: May be mistaken for a heart attack.
    • Chronic Cough: Persistent cough, often worsened by lying down.
  3. Risk Factors:

    • Hiatal Hernia: A condition where a portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity, increasing the risk of GERD.
    • Obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen, promoting reflux.
    • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increased pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy can contribute.
    • Smoking: Smoking can weaken the LES.
  4. Diagnosis:

    • Endoscopy: A flexible tube with a camera is used to examine the esophagus for signs of damage.
    • pH Monitoring: Measures acid levels in the esophagus over a 24-hour period.
    • Esophageal Manometry: Measures the pressure and coordination of muscle contractions in the esophagus.
  5. Treatment:

    • Lifestyle Changes: Elevating the head of the bed, avoiding large meals, losing weight, and quitting smoking can help.
    • Medications:
      • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Reduce stomach acid production.
      • H2 Blockers: Reduce acid production.
      • Antacids: Provide short-term relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
    • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be considered to strengthen the LES or repair a hiatal hernia.
  6. Complications:

    • Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus.
    • Strictures: Narrowing of the esophagus due to scarring.
    • Barrett’s Esophagus: Changes in the lining of the esophagus that can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.